Here is the end –my path has vanished into the parsley. - Buson.
The Billy Goats kicked off under the clement canopy of the azure Köln sky. Almost immediately, Köln captain Lukas Podolski, playing his final game in the Golfstadt, slalomed down the centre of the pitch faster than it takes for Stale Solbakken’s reputation to crumble, dashing forth to glory until the ever reliable pugilist Diego Contento gave the preening Polish pony a piece of his mind, dealing the future Arsenal striker the sort of crack on the head you’d get for not asking. The former World Cup 2006 gold-leaf boy received a free kick for his troubles, which came to nought, incidentally the number of goals Prinz Poldi scored during his spell with the Bayern reserve team. What a disappointment.
Aside from this temporary breach in service, Bayern mostly dominated in the opening minutes, building up play like a sandcastle on the beach, yet lacking the ability to find the right piece of driftwood for a drawbridge to the goal. In the 12th minute, Diego Contento waddled over to the nearest tidal pool with his shovel and pale and floated in a cross to Mario Gomez. For a minute, it looked as if the Riedlingen Oedipus had found a shard of sea glass, but it turned out to be nothing more than a slick of oil floating atop the water. Oh, and Gomez’s header drifted over the bar.
This state of affairs could have continued indefinitely, but Köln, attempting to take a lead from Berlin, pressed on (that might be the clunkiest wordplay ever). In the 26th minute, Christian Eichner, believed by most eminent scholars in the scientific community to be Ralf Rangnick’s long-lost twin brother, clung onto the tailwind of a magisterial lofted ball, throttling forth down the wing and ultimately threading a pass to… no one. Bayern counterattacked this counterattack, (now surely that’s the ultimate counterattack, but still they cried like Schalkers) and once again, Mario Gomez found himself on the end of the crucial final ball near the Köln goalmouth. Geromel must be Darth Vader, because whenever Gomez found himself anywhere near the Brazilian defender, he mysteriously choked. The pizza loving plunderer faired no differently on this occasion, jamming his shot into Geromel’s luscious oiled legs, winning a corner.
Goalmouth shenanigans were in plentiful abundance that afternoon. In the 30th minute, Thomas Müller climbed atop Kevin Pezzoni’s back, conceding a free kick to the Billy Goats. Five minutes later, Arjen Robben and Bastian Schweinsteiger lavisciously stroked the ball between each other on the right wing, enrapturing the Köln defence into a trance like a hypnotist before Franck Ribery not so much telegraphed as sexted a pass from the far right flank to Thomas Müller, who blasted the white orb into Michael Rensing’s net to open the score at 1-0. Time was running out for the Billy Goats, and the terraces were becoming gruff.
Frank Schaefer’s men were reluctant to throw in the towel. In the 40th minute, Köln hit Bayern on the most predictable, 4-2-3-1esque counterattack, the eventual shot falling to Slawomir Peszko, who squirted a curly fry of a shot expressly into the arms of Manuel Neuer. This was the last major chance of the first half, before both teams left for the dressing rooms, completely oblivious this would be the last time on that fateful afternoon they would walk off the pitch at the RheinEnergieStadion…
The second half opened as nearly all halves open; a low tempo affair, beset by four minutes of shyly asking the opposition their favourite colour and blushing whenever a white shirted player came anywhere near the ball. Very conservative. Five minutes in, Franck Ribery cut down the wing like the David Cameron cut through the pensions of public sector workers before passing to Mario Gomez like M. Thatcher passed the Conservative Party leadership to Michael Portillo. Alas, this was not the Gomez’s day, as Geromel yet again came between the Schwabian and the net, thundering an Enfield Southgate of an own goal between Michael Rensing and his goalpost. A Major setback for the Billy Goats.
And this was when it became ridiculous. In the 55th minute, Arjen Robben received a schönes backheel in the area, which the two year contract extension man coldly thrashed beyond Rensing’s reach, tilting the score 3-0 Bayern’s way. At this point, we began to waste chances for sport, a delicious state of affairs singly encapsulated by Arjen Robben’s reluctance to indulge his favours the unmarked Bastian Schweinsteiger, dementedly calling for a pass from the central midfield, opting instead to squander the ball himself. Never change, Arjen.
You have to give Frank Schaefer some credit. His team were losing 3-0, outplayed across the pitch, and yet at no point did his herd of milky white goals give in. Veritably, Schaefer’s team began to close the margin on the Bavarians in the 63rd minute after Lukas Podolski outstripped Anatoliy Tymoshchuk on the left wing, slotting a pass through to Milivoje Novakovic, positioned as far away from Neuer’s net as Robert Lewandowski’s agent is from his phone. It would have taken the Slovenian a great effort to miss, and Novakovic demonstrated a Cathcartian inability to accomplish that task, lazily tapping the ball past Manuel Neuer. What a player Novakovic is! What a gentleman! And how modest, too! “You are truly one of the greatest goalkeepers of our age,” said the Slovenian to Manuel Neuer, as he collected the ball from the back of the net, “This time, I got the better of you. Next time, I may not be so fortunate. Congratulations, and best of luck in your continuing career!”. Sometimes, it hurts to be such a brilliant lip reading expert.
A flurry of substitutions followed in the succeeding minutes. David Alaba entered for Toni Kroos, while Franck Ribery egressed for Holger Badstuber two minutes later, after Bastian Schweinsteiger received a yellow card for attempting a lobotomy on Kevin McKenna. Five minutes later Jupp Heynckes dealt his final card, hauling off Arjen Robben for Rafinha. Ten minutes later, Shifty Eyes’ scheming bore fruit, as Thomas Müller lobbed a cheeky backheel behind Michael Rensing. And that’s where it all began to go spectacularly pear-shaped…
From the moment the Köln faithful realized their sordid position, they decided amongst themselves the best way to avoid the bitter reality was to cause a diversion. For whatever reason, the ultras in the north terrace of the RheinEnergieStadion agreed upon drowning their sorrows with a fire safety advertisement, to be broadcast to the masses watching both at the ground and on television. A pair of massive torches were lit and waved violently to demonstrate the follies of playing with matches, while smoke bombs were set off to provide an accurate outdoor simulation of the conditions of a burning building. The ensuing hellish tableau led referee Guido Winkelmann to cut the proceedings short. As both sets of players dashed for the tunnel and two lines of riot police emerged from unseen crevices dotted throughout the stadium, we were left to contemplate an entirely fitting ending to a surreal season, and contemplate how much worse it could have been.
- As both sides retook the pitch for the second half, we noticed that Lukas Podolski wore an undershirt with an inscription faintly recognizable as writing. Because of the extreme danger posed by occupying the pitch in the dying embers of Saturday’s game, we will never know what noble sentiments Podolski wished to convey to our unworthy eyes. On behalf of all right minded football supporters everywhere, I’d like to thank the Köln ultras for ensuring Prinz Poldi’s pungent proclamation never saw the light of day.
- If you’re going to retire a player’s shirt, at least make it a player who doesn’t desert to greener pastures at the first sign of crisis.
- Thomas Müller is good again!
- Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is not.
- If you aren’t singing Christian Eichner’s name to Grauzone’s seminal Neue Schweitze Welle masterpiece Eisbaer, you haven’t lived.
- Well, aren’t we looking forward to this now?
- The ever-orgasmic Kai Dittmann was his usual optimistic self on saturday, only conceding the possibility of a Bayern loss three minutes from the end, after Thomas Müller had given die Roten a three goal advantage.
- Irrelevant, but it’s my opinion that this video sums up FC Koln rather nicely.
- 0-1 Müller (34′)
- 0-2 Geromel (OG, 52′)
- 0-3 Robben (54′)
- 1-3 Novakovic (63′)
- 1-4 Müller (85′)
- 1.FC Köln:
- Milivoje Novakovic (Jajalo, 46′)
- Christopher Buchtmann (Lanig, 69′)
- FC Bayern:
- David Alaba (Kroos, 69′)
- Holger Badstuber (Ribery, 71′)
- Rafinha (Robben, 75′)
Team stats (Köln-Bayern):
- Ball possession: 41% – 59%
- Shots taken: 7 – 16
- Passes completed (in %): 300 – 557 (84% – 90%)
- Corner kicks: 2 – 5
- Tackles won: 50% – 50%
- Fouls committed: 13 – 19
Leading player stats (Köln-Bayern):
- Touches: Kevin Pezzoni (76) – Bastian Schweinsteiger (120)
- Shots taken: Lukas Podolski (3) – Mario Gomez (5)
- Passes completed: Kevin Pezzoni (47) – Bastian Schweinsteiger (92)
- Crosses attempted: Eichner/Riether (3 each) – Franck Ribery (7)
- Tackles won: Martin Lanig (12) – Bastian Schweinsteiger (14)
- Tackles won in %: Kevin Pezzoni (73%) – Jerome Boateng (82%)
- Distance covered: Kevin Pezzoni (12,4) – Bastian Schweinsteiger (12,2)
- Fastest sprint in km/h: Lukas Podolski (31,2) – Franck Ribery (31,5)
Next match: Saturday v Dortmund (DFB Cup final), 8 pm
Published with permission from Red Robbery.